KABUL: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of the Chabahar port, opening up a new transit route between Afghanistan, Iran and India that bypasses Pakistan.
The Shahid Beheshti port, located in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province, was inaugurated by Rouhani in the presence of dignitaries from India, Afghanistan, and several other countries of the region, an Indian media report said.
A day earlier, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Iranian counterpart Javed Zarif, held a meeting in Tehran on Saturday to review the implementation of the Chabahar port project.
In May 2016, India has signed a contract with Iranian port company for developing two terminals and five multi-cargo berth in Phase-1 of the Chabahar port project. Indian investment in phase-1 will be about $500 million.
A MoU to develop the port was signed in May 2015 between Indian and Iranian ministers.
Chabahar is in southeast Iran and the port will help India to bypass Pakistan and open up a route to Afghanistan with which New Delhi has developed close security and economic interests, sources said.
The existing Iranian road network can link Chabahar port to Zaranj in Afghanistan, about 883 km from the port. The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland highway, setting up road access to four major cities of the country including Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.